BRITISH COLUMBIA

Surrey Rape Victims Offered 24-Hour, Year-Round Support

03/30/2013 10:35 EDT | Updated 03/24/2014 11:59 EDT
Victims of sexual assault in Surrey now have access to a service offering 24-hour, year-round support, the first service of its kind in Canada.

The Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team, or SMART, provides support for victims the moment they enter an emergency room.

The team helps to guide the women through medical, legal and personal issues. Their services are available in person or over the phone.

"It's such a sensitive thing to talk about," said Corrine Arthur, the project co-ordinator at SMART.

"The vast majority still don't tell. We know in the Fraser Health [region] 12,000 are assaulted and less than 1,000 report to the police."

After Allison Tanaka was raped, SMART offered her support throughout her ordeal.

"There was someone there with me after it happened and there was someone there with me for the whole process," Tanaka told CBC News.

Tanaka said she was drugged and raped at a Christmas staff party.

"One minute I was at the table having fun, next minute I woke up in a stranger's bed and didn't know where I was, how I got there," she said.

"I have no memories, just a chunk of time that's gone."

Lynn Gifford, a forensic nurse at Surrey Memorial hospital, said at least 25 percent of the sexual assault victims who come to the hospital have been drugged.

"Many women are hesitant to report to the police because they don't remember and have nothing to tell."

A recent CBC News Investigation revealed that B.C. is the top destination in Canada for ketamine, a date rape drug also known as Special K.

The CBSA says it has seized over $128 million worth of ketamine at B.C.'s border points over the past six years — a dollar value more than double that of ketamine seizures in Ontario and Quebec combined.

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